Once again, Russell Wilson has proven the doubters wrong.
Wilson continued his rapid maturation as Seattle’s starting quarterback, completing 16-of-27 passes for a career-high 293 yards and 3 touchdowns to rally the Seahawks to a 24-23 victory over the visiting New England Patriots. Wilson was unflappable down the stretch, guiding the Seahawks on a pair of touchdown drives that featured passes of 51 and 46 yards, with the latter completion to Sidney Rice resulting in the winning score.
Sunday’s performance was a terrific follow-up to last week’s win at Carolina, when Wilson completed an impressive 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards to lead the Seahawks to a 16-10 victory.
Wilson’s continued improvement is justifying the faith of the Seahawks coaching staff, which has been under heavy scrutiny ever since they made the decision to hand the starting quarterback spot to the rookie from Wisconsin (by way of NC State) as opposed to veteran Matt Flynn, whom the club signed to a $19.5 million contract in the offseason.
Rookie quarterbacks tend to deal with their share of skeptics by nature, but very few have had to answer as many critics as Wilson. Eyebrows were raised when Seattle selected Wilson in the third round of last year’s draft, as the diminutive (5’11”, 206) quarterback was considered too short and not strong enough physically to become an effective NFL starter.
But Wilson proved to be much more than that, beating out both Flynn and Tavaris Jackson for the starting job in the preseason. Wilson proved to be a quick study of the offense, which should have been no surprise considering how easily he adapted to Wisconsin’s pro-style system last year after spending three seasons piloting NC State’s spread attack. Wilson also quickly won over the locker room with his leadership and intangibles, further inspiring confidence from Pete Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks coaching staff.
So far, Wilson has rewarded that faith.
Wilson is one of five rookie quarterbacks to have started this season, with the other four having been first-round draft picks. Of the five, Wilson has the best record so far, leading the Seahawks to a 4-2 record over the first six games of the year. Statistically, Wilson also has the second-best completion percentage among the quintet and the third-highest quarterback rating, currently sitting less than two points behind the Colts’ Andrew Luck, last year’s top overall draft pick.
It is true that Wilson has significantly less pressure on his shoulders than the other rookies, as the Seahawks can rely on one of the NFL’s finest defenses to keep the team in every game. Seattle also has a strong running game, as Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch is coming off a 1200-yard season and tends to be the focus of opposing defenses.
But Wilson is improving with each passing week, demonstrating that he is capable of leading the franchise and that he is the Seahawks’ best option both for the present and the future. Seattle looks like a potential playoff team this year, and Russell Wilson is the right quarterback to get them there.